Yesterday, I began to discuss the observations I’ve made of late regarding the decadence of the American church. You can read the first post here to get an idea of what I’m talking about. Why is it the American church feels the need to constantly be getting bigger and bigger and using their money to purchase bigger and bigger things?
Perhaps the argument is given that we do all we can to reach the lost. That includes building a Chuck E. Cheese playground for kids to play in while Mom and Dad are entertained in a worship center that has better lighting and sound than any nightclub in the county.
Preach the word of God. Be persistent, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching.
(2 Timothy 4:2 NLT)
I’ll write more tomorrow about the message itself but this verse keeps messing with my head as I think about ways to reach people and grow a church plant. I preach a number of sermon series each year including both topical and expository series. I understand the value of speaking to life needs as many would attest but I also understand that God called me to preach the cross and His shed blood so that others could be saved. How do we bridge the two and stay current while being faithful to His call to preach the gospel?
Aside from the message itself is the overarching concept of whole life ministry. How can the church connect the gospel with the idea of a daily life devoted to God? In my preparation to preach and teach is the idea that I must tailor my messages to the unique needs of the people in my congregation. It’s not so much niche preaching as it is living in your congregation. My quote yesterday from Calvin Miller’s book on the preacher “living in the center of his community” rings true to my heart. Our people deserve to see a living sermon in the lives of their leaders. My concern is that with the recent growth of video-venue churches, an experience like that is nearly impossible. I know I’ll hear from the VV supporters who will claim that life change is happening and is possible. I’ll not deny their claims but a pastor is much more than someone who speaks each weekend.
I mention video venues only because a recent poll taken by the “Church Marketing Sucks” people show that for many people, they feel the future of the church is in the video venue concept (37%) while another 21% feel it will be “something else” (though they didn’t say what that was)!
While the highest percentage feel the future is in the VV concept, my thoughts go to the other 63% who feel into a mix of large church, small church, and something else. There is still much searching being done by society. They are still not sold on what it is that is being done today.
I like what my good friend Jason Ackerman said in response to my first post:
You’re helping people understand what it means to be Jesus to their community, day to day in their own sphere of influence. It’s not about the exalted gifted communicator, it’s about walking through a spiritual journey together.
That’s exactly it. How best to do that is what I fight with each day. My budget is limited and yet, many want the entertainment experience. What about when they leave and go back to their jobs, their families, and their day-to-day existence? Have we given them food for the journey? Is our gathering merely to sing good music, preach for 25 minutes, collect money and send them on their way or are we living life together? Is the pastor leading as he should be being both humble yet strong? Are the leaders servant led to meet people where they are and to lead them to a sacrificial life of Christlike devotion?